You’re probably tired of hearing people — whether it’s your parents, friends or personal finance experts — tell you that you need to start saving more money now. What you really need instead are some helpful tips on how you can realistically start growing your savings today. After all, skipping your daily $5 Starbucks coffee will only take you so far. Fortunately, there are many easy ways you can save money every day.
Last updated: Oct. 9, 2020
1. Borrow a Dress or Suit
With friends’ weddings, corporate conferences and maybe even girls’ — or boys’ — nights out, it can be easy to find an excuse to buy a dress or suit every month. But unless you plan to wear that garment several more times in the future, it’s not really worth the expense. Next time you have an event coming up, borrow a nice outfit from a close friend or rent one for the day. You can rent the latest looks from websites like Le Tote, Rent the Runway or Style Lend.
2. Let Your Roots Show
Getting your hair professionally colored is ridiculously expensive, especially if you’re a brunette living as a platinum blond. If you dare, perform your own at-home touch-up or simply wait eight weeks instead of four to get your appointment with a pro. Besides, having ombre hair is still pretty cool.
3. Add an Automatic Transfer
Here’s an easy way to save without cutting a single expense: Set up an automatic transfer of $10 or $25 per week from your checking account to your savings account. At such a small amount, it’s likely you won’t miss the money.
4. Pack a Lunch at Least Every Other Day
While your co-workers might be going out for lunch, you probably don’t want to sit in the break room with a depressing sandwich at lunchtime. However, limiting lunches out to every other workday can be a simple way to save $5 to $15 per meal — easily $100 over the course of a month.
5. Skip the Bars This Weekend
By the time you take a cab, grab a bite to eat, order a few rounds of drinks and take a cab back home, you’re looking at an expensive night out on the town. Pick a Friday or Saturday night to stay in, order takeout, have some friends over and tell them to each bring along their favorite refreshment.
6. Clean Your Own House
Many people don’t have the luxury of employing household help, but there are plenty of people who spend at least $100 on a house cleaner every month. Try cleaning up after yourself just once — you’ll save a lot of cash and gain a greater appreciation for all your maid does for you.
7. Put a Freeze on Your Gym Membership
A number of personal finance experts always point to the gym membership as the first expense that should be cut. If you’re in need of extra savings this month, freeze your membership instead of canceling it. This will allow you to resume your fitness routine in the future without having to pay sign-up fees again.
8. Or Switch To a Cheaper Gym
If you can’t bear to part ways with your gym membership, consider switching to a less expensive gym. For example, Planet Fitness memberships start at just $10 a month.
9. Buy Your Plane Tickets a Month in Advance
Booking last-minute travel is an easy way to pay an extra $100 or more. A study by Skyscanner found that you can get the lowest airfares 30 days in advance for domestic travel and four months in advance for international travel. So if you know you’d like to travel in the near future, plan accordingly to save the most on airfare.
10. Refinance Your Mortgage
People who financed their homes even just a few years ago can stand to cut a couple of percentage points off their interest rates by refinancing. That translates to big savings on monthly mortgage payments.
11. Go On a Fiscal Fast
Here’s a tip that might sound a little daunting to some: Don’t spend any money for a week, except where absolutely necessary like on groceries for your weekly meals. If you think you’ll have a hard time accomplishing this, enlist your friends’ help. Ask them to do a fiscal fast with you or make it a challenge within your group of friends.
12. Make a List Before Heading To the Grocery Store
Don’t go to the market hungry and unprepared, wandering each aisle in search of what you “need.” It’s amazing how planning a list of purchases before each weekly shopping trip will prevent you from coming home with an extra bag filled with potato chips, soda and frozen pizzas.
13. Quit Smoking Already
You don’t need to hear — again — about the financial benefits of quitting smoking and living healthier, in general. With the average cost of a pack of cigarettes now at $6.28, if you’re a pack-a-day smoker, you can save $2,292 a year by going cold turkey.
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14. Buy a Water Filter
Bottled water is one of the most wasteful products you can spend money on — get a filter and reuse an aluminum water bottle instead. This is environmentally conscious, as well.
15. Cancel Your Private Mortgage Insurance
If you purchased your home with less than a 20% down payment, you might have enough equity now to cancel your expensive private mortgage insurance. If you do, you probably should.
16. Transfer Your Credit Card Balance
Expensive credit card interest will eat up your money that could be going toward savings. Seek out a credit card company offering a promotional 0% APR balance transfer, and move your existing balance to the new card. The catch: You have to pay off your debt during the introductory period, or you’ll be back at square one.
17. Go Meatless
Have you ever compared the price of a pound of ground beef to that of a can of beans? There’s a huge difference. You don’t have to live off tofu to save money, but swapping two meat-based meals a week to vegetarian options can save a ton on food costs.
18. Buy Your Jeans at a Discount Retailer
If designer denim is your thing, you don’t have to pay full price. If you’re picky about your jeans, buy them from stores like T.J. Maxx and Nordstrom Rack, where denim is usually discounted by at least $100.
19. Use a Health Savings Account
If medical expenses are eating up your monthly budget, look into opening a health savings account. These accounts allow you to deposit pretax money, much like a 401(k), to be used to cover out-of-pocket medical costs. Restrictions apply, so find out if you qualify.
20. Try Bartering
Yes, bartering. People really do exchange goods and services instead of cash, and they are saving a ton of money on everything from haircuts to child care.
21. Host a Movie Night With Redbox
Date night at the movies could easily be $40 if you buy two tickets, popcorn and drinks. Go out a couple of times and throw in one DVD purchase, and you’ve spent about $100 just to watch a few movies. Redbox lets you rent movies for $1.80 per day — enough said.
22. Switch To Generic Prescriptions
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that generic medications work just as well as their name-brand counterparts — and can cost 85% less. It’s time to switch.
23. Go Generic on Food and Cosmetics
You know there’s no real difference between Cheerios and the generic, store-brand version, so why pay the extra money? The same goes for most drugstore makeup. Sure, a few products are hit-or-miss, but overall, switching to generic brands when shopping can save you big bucks.
24. Drop Cable for Hulu or Netflix
How many hours a day do you waste sitting in front of the TV? Better yet, how much money are you wasting paying for premium cable? Hulu Plus costs $12 and Netflix starts at $9 — depending on your plan — and you’ll become much more productive once you no longer have 1,200 channels to flip through all day.
25. Order Your Glasses Online
No law says you have to buy your frames from your optometrist’s office. After an eye exam, take your prescription and shop online for a deeply discounted pair of frames. You can save serious dough, even if you get more than one pair.
26. Cook More Meals at Home
Going out to eat makes your wallet vulnerable to restaurant markups — especially on alcohol. Cook more meals at home during the week, and try hosting a potluck on the weekend to make eating in a social event.
27. If You Do Eat Out, Use a Groupon
Search “restaurants” on Groupon to find deals on places to go near you. You’d be surprised how many places you can score discounted credits or cash-back deals for.
28. Grocery Shop With Digital Coupons
Several grocery chains, including Kroger and Meijer, allow you to preload manufacturer coupons onto your store card through the store app so you can apply the savings when you shop in-store.
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29. Get Cash Back on Your Grocery Store Purchases With Ibotta
The Ibotta app allows you to get cash back on your groceries at nearly all the major chains, including Kroger, Albertsons and H-E-B. Submit your receipts or link Ibotta to your loyalty accounts to earn cash back with every qualified grocery haul.
30. Shop at a Discount Grocery Store
If you do your grocery shopping at Whole Foods, you’re paying way more than you have to. Kiplinger comparison shopped at Whole Foods and Aldi and found that on a total bill of 50 items, Aldi was nearly $69 cheaper. Opt for a discount grocery store whenever you can.
31. Comparison Shop for Groceries With the Basket App
Want to know which store by you has the cheapest apples? Or which one is having a sale on your favorite brand of toilet paper? Thanks to the app Basket, you can now see the prices of every item on your grocery list at a number of stores near you, so you can make sure you get the best deal on every item you need every time.
32. Buy Nonperishable Items in Bulk
Stock up on nonperishable items the next time you go to Costco or Sam’s Club, as buying in bulk is almost always cheaper than the per-unit cost of the item. According to U.S. News, some of the best items to buy in bulk are household and cleaning supplies, rice, dry beans, toiletries, canned goods, diapers and beverages that are safe to store at room temperature.
33. Don't Buy Individually Packaged Items at the Grocery Store
Snack bags and 100-calorie packs are convenient and can be an effective way to control your portions, but you’re paying a premium price for the extra packaging. For example, single-serve bags of Cheez-Its price out to 33 cents an ounce on Amazon Fresh, while a family-size container prices out to 21 cents an ounce. Buy the bigger package and split it into individual sandwich bags yourself to save money.
34. Don't Buy Precut Fruits and Vegetables
Buying precut, sliced and diced produce is super convenient — but it’s also a huge waste of money. Vice did a price comparison of precut and whole fruits and vegetables in 2018 and concluded that you could save $100 a month by prepping your produce yourself.
35. Join Restaurant Loyalty Programs
All you need is an email address and you can get signed up for customer loyalty programs at your favorite restaurant chains. You can score coupons, discounts and sometimes even birthday freebies.
36. Adjust the Temperature on Your Thermostat
Save on heating and cooling costs by adjusting the temperature of your thermostat when you’re not home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, “you can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7°-10°F for eight hours a day from its normal setting.”
37. Seal Air Leaks With Caulk
This simple DIY project can save you money year-round. Caulking and sealing any air leaks and cracks in windows and doors around your home will only cost around $3 to $20 and can save you 10% to 20% on your electricity bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
38. Insulate Your Water Heater Tank
If your water heater tank is warm to the touch, that’s a sign that it needs additional insulation. You can purchase a precut jacket or blanket for your water heater for around $20, and this simple home improvement can save you 7% to 16% annually, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
39. Install a Low-Flow Showerhead
You can save money on your daily shower by installing a low-flow showerhead. A one-time investment of $10 to $20 for the new fixture can achieve water savings of 25% to 60%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
Photo disclaimer: This photo is being used for representational use only.
40. Shop Around for a New Cellphone Plan
There are some utilities and services you don’t have a lot of options for depending on where you live, but your cellphone plan is one that you can comparison shop for. Shop around to see if you can get a better deal with a different provider, or lower your existing data plan to save with your current provider.
41. Shop Around for New Car Insurance
Your life circumstances — and accident record — have a major effect on your car insurance rates, so if you’ve had any changes, such as moving, improving your credit score or getting married, you may qualify for cheaper auto insurance rates, according to Insurify. Even if none of those apply to you, it’s still worth shopping around for rates if it’s been a while since you opened your current policy.
42. See If You Qualify For Discounts on Insurance Through Professional or Alumni Associations
Many insurers offer discounts to groups, such as professional groups or alumni associations. Check to see if any of the groups you belong to will qualify you for discounted car insurance.
43. Only Go to In-Network Healthcare Providers
Don’t get stuck paying for doctor’s visits out of pocket. Before you make an appointment, make sure the healthcare provider you want to see is in your network so that you’re only responsible for covering the co-pay.
44. Eat Right and Exercise
Staying healthy now can save you big time on healthcare costs down the line.
45. Put All Your Bills on Autopay
Put all your bills on autopay and you’ll never get stuck paying a late fee again.
46. Cancel Your Landline
There really is no need to have a landline in a mobile phone-saturated world. Cut your phone cord to save on your monthly bill.
47. Borrow Movies and Books From Your Library
Your local library is truly a treasure trove of free entertainment. Borrow books and movies rather than paying for either of these entertainment options.
48. See a Matinee Movie
Some movie theater chains, like Cinemark, offer discounted prices when you see morning or early afternoon movies.
49. Seek Out Free Movie Screenings
Sign up for Gofobo or Preview Free Movies to get passes to see movies for free. Or search to see if your community is hosting any free movie screenings in a local park or another venue.
50. Plan a Staycation
Save big on travel by planning a “staycation” in your own city. Even if you stay at a hotel, you’ll likely save hundreds by not paying for flights.
51. Window Shop
Make your next shopping trip a window-shopping trip. If you love perusing your local mall or Main Street, you can still do so without actually spending a dime.
52. Only Shop the Sale Rack
If you do want to actually go shopping, try sticking to the sale rack only.
53. Shop With Discount Gift Cards
Plan out what stores you’ll be shopping at and purchase discounted gift cards to do your shopping. You can find gift cards sold for less than their face value on sites like Raise and Gift Card Granny.
54. Take Advantage of Employee or Student Discounts
Don’t forget to use your employee discount whenever possible. If you’re a student, ask the sales associate if the store has a student discount. Many major chains do offer savings for students, and it can never hurt to ask.
55. Sign Up for Customer Loyalty Programs
Many retailers have customer loyalty programs that are free to join. Depending on the retailer, you could get exclusive discounts or earn points toward savings on future purchases.
56. Abide By the 24-Hour Shopping Rule
Before making a major purchase, sleep on it. You might find that you wanted to buy the item due to an impulse rather than an actual want or need to have it. If you still think the purchase is a good idea 24 hours later, go for it.
57. Shop With Cash
There are a number of ways shopping with cash can help you save money. First, it’s a more mindful way of shopping than swiping a credit card, so you’ll likely spend more time thinking about each purchase. Second, you’re limited to only buying what you can actually afford. And third, it prevents you from racking up interest on a credit card bill.
58. Know the Store's Sale Cycle
Retailers often hold seasonal or semiannual sales. Check the dates of these sales events so you don’t end up paying full price for something that will be discounted in a few weeks.
59. Shop at Secondhand Stores
Peruse your local secondhand store or thrift shop to score deep discounts on clothing and accessories.
60. Shop on eBay
Whatever you’re shopping for, you can likely find it sold at a discount on eBay. Some items sold on eBay are brand-new with tags still on.
61. Set Deal Alerts on SlickDeals
Set up alerts on the SlickDeals app or website to be notified when items go on sale. You can set deals for a specific brand, site or product category.
62. Online Shop on Tuesdays
Tuesday is the best day to find deals when online shopping, according to an analysis conducted by U.S. retailer reporting service SumAll.
63. Search For Promo Codes When Online Shopping
Sites like RetailMeNot and Coupons.com let you search for coupon codes and promo codes for whichever online retailer you’re shopping through.
64. Download the Honey Browser Extension
Another option to save on online shopping is to download the Honey browser extension for Chrome. Honey will automatically apply savings to your cart when you go to check out.
65. Use Incognito Mode When Online Shopping
Retailers might show you a specific price of an item based on your browser history or location. This practice, known as “dynamic pricing,” can mean you get charged more than someone else. To prevent this from happening, put your browser in incognito mode when online shopping.
66. Download the SwagButton Browser Extension
Swagbucks’ SwagButton is another Chrome extension that can help you save. When you online shop, the SwagButton will automatically alert you about cash back you can earn when you purchase.
67. Opt In to 'Subscribe & Save' for Everyday Essentials on Amazon
You can save up to 15% on everyday essentials when you choose the “subscribe & save” option on Amazon. Not only will you save, but this will prevent you from ever running out of the household goods you know you’ll need.
68. Never Pay For Shipping
Shipping costs can add up over time. Save money by only shopping at retailers that offer free shipping or offer a “free pick up in-store” option.
69. Use Google Shopping To Comparison Shop
See exactly how much you’ll pay for a specific product — including tax and shipping — by using Google Shopping to compare websites’ prices.
70. Shop at Outlet Stores
If your favorite store has an outlet, do your shopping there instead. Some retailers even have online outlet stores that make saving even easier.
71. Shop at Yard Sales and Estate Sales
If you’re in the market for furnishings and homewares, yard and estate sales are great places to shop.
72. Sign Up for Marketing Emails From Your Favorite Retailers
Get early access to sales and extra coupons right to your inbox by signing up to receive emails from the retailers you shop at the most.
73. Switch To a Free Checking Account
If you’re currently paying fees for transfers, ATM use or debit charges, you can save money by switching banks and signing up for a free checking account.
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74. Cancel All Credit Cards That Charge an Annual Fee
The are plenty of no-fee credit cards that offer cash back, travel rewards and other perks. If you’re trying to save money, you should not be paying an annual fee just to have a certain credit card in your wallet.
75. Switch To an Online or High-Interest Savings Account
The money you save will grow faster if your savings account interest rate is higher.
76. Repair Clothes Instead of Replacing Them
Small holes and broken buttons are easy to fix with just basic sewing skills. Try repairing your clothes before running out to the store to replace them.
77. Negotiate Your Credit Card Rates
If you’re paying a high interest rate on your credit card, call your provider and ask if they can lower it. The worst they can say is no.
78. Drink More Water
Not only is drinking water healthy, but it can also save you money. When you go out to eat, opting for tap water will save you from paying for pricier beverages. And it can also make you feel fuller quicker, so you’ll spend less money on food.
79. Turn Off the Lights
Make a conscious effort to turn off the lights whenever you leave a room, and reduce the use of lights when natural sunlight will do. This small change can save money on your electricity bill.
80. Switch To Energy-Efficient Lightbulbs
Switching to halogen incandescent, CFL or LED lightbulbs can cost you more upfront, but it will save you in the long term. By replacing five of your home’s most frequently used bulbs to energy-efficient ones, you could save $45 a year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
81. Clean Your Car's Air Filter
Cleaning your car’s air filter can save you money on gas, according to AOL. A clean air filter can improve your gas mileage by as much as 10%.
82. DIY Gifts for Friends and Family
Homemade gifts are more meaningful — and can also save you money. Instead of splurging on a gift for a loved one’s birthday or another occasion, consider cooking them dinner or getting crafty with a personalized present.
83. Plan Your Meals Based Around What's On Sale at Your Grocery Store
Check your grocery store’s flyer to see exactly what’s on sale, and see what recipes you can create based around heavily discounted items.
84. Don't Rely on Retail Therapy
Many of us shop when we’re sad or stressed — but you can wind up even sadder or more stressed when you end up with a credit card bill you can’t pay off. Instead of relying on retail therapy, try some free ways to lift your mood. Watch a funny movie, light a candle, take a bath, meditate or go for a run instead.
85. Clean the Vents and Filters on All Your Appliances
Clearing dust off the vents and filters of your refrigerator, dryer, and heating and cooling units will enable them to work more efficiently — which will save you money on your utility bill.
86. Holiday Shop After the Holidays
Seasonal and holiday items always go on sale at the end of the season or after the holiday has passed. Take advantage of these sales to stock up for the following year.
87. Cancel Magazine Subscriptions
There’s no sense in paying for magazines you aren’t reading. If you have piles of unread magazines around your home, cancel your subscriptions. You might even get a prorated amount back on issues you didn’t yet receive.
88. Set Up a Babysitting Exchange
Instead of paying a babysitter, set up a babysitting exchange with other parents and take turns watching each other’s kids.
89. Always Take the Doggie Bag
Don’t let leftovers go to waste. Take home a doggie bag when you go out to eat to save on food costs for the next day.
90. Inflate Your Tires
Keeping your tires properly inflated can improve your fuel economy by an average of 0.6%, which amounts to an average savings of 2 cents per gallon, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Many gas stations have air pumps that you can use free of charge.
91. Take Public Transportation
Public transportation is almost always cheaper than taking a ride-sharing service or taxi, and it can be cheaper than driving when you account for gas and parking costs. Opt for public transportation every once in a while to save.
92. Walk Whenever You Can
Walking is even cheaper than public transportation. Plus, it’s a great form of exercise.
Carpooling to work can save you big on gas. Consider sharing rides with co-workers who live nearby.
94. BYO Snacks
If you’re planning a car trip or plane travel, pack your own snacks. This will prevent you from paying marked-up prices at convenience stores or the airport terminal.
95. Consolidate Your Student Loans
If you have student loans from various lenders, consider consolidating your student loan debt. You might qualify for a lower interest rate, which will end up saving you money on every single monthly payment.
96. Take Advantage of All Your Company Benefits
Your employer might provide you with access to discounts you don’t even know you have access to, such as savings on your cellphone bill and discount movie tickets.
97. DIY Cleaning Supplies
Many cleaning supplies are easy to DIY with things you already have around the house. For example, you can make a scented all-purpose cleaner with white vinegar, water, a lemon rind and some rosemary, according to a Good Housekeeping recipe. Consider making your own supplies instead of spending extra money on premade cleaning products.
98. Wash All Your Clothes in Cold Water
Washing your clothes in cold water can save the average household $40 a year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
99. Eat Seasonal Produce
Seasonal fruits and vegetables are typically cheaper than those that are out of season because out-of-season produce has to be shipped in from other climates.
100. Take Advantage of Happy Hour Prices
Eating at home is almost always cheaper than going out to eat, but you can save on dining out if you go during happy hour.
101. Shop With a Cash-Back Credit Card
You’ll automatically save every time you swipe when you use a cash-back credit card. Just make sure you keep up with payments, or interest owed can outweigh any cash back you earn.
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Casey Bond contributed to the reporting for this article.